Tuesday Ticker: May 11, 2021

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— In this week’s Tuesday Ticker, Quebec’s Lion Electric goes public via a recently completed merger, auto parts manufacturer Martinrea reports significant gains for Q1 2021 and U.S labour groups file an USMCA complaint on a Mexican auto parts manufacturer.The Bull, the Bear and Lion

Quebec-based electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Lion Electric began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) yesterday, following its merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp.

The SPAC merger between the two companies saw Lion Electric generate proceeds of $490 million. The company used $90 million of the net process to pay off outstanding credit facilities and debt instruments. The rest of the funds will be used to fuel the company’s growth plans, including its recently announced expansion in the form of a U.S. manufacturing facility in Joliet, Illinois. 

This will be the largest manufacturing facility for all-electric for medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles in the U.S, said the company. The agreement with the Illinois government has it promising to invest $70 million over the next three years.

Lion Electric expects construction of the facility to pick up speed in the second half of 2021.

LEV is an EV company with a focus on making class 5 to class 8 commercial urban trucks, as well as EV buses and mini-buses. That includes those used for schools, paratransit, and mass transit.

The company’s generated SPAC proceeds will also assist in the development of advanced battery systems, the creation of a battery facility in Québec, and other general corporate purposes, said Lion Electric. 

Martinrea move-ups

Toronto-based Martinrea International has reported net income increases of 34.5 percent in the first quarter on higher revenues, marking significant gains on the auto parts manufacturer’s 2020 Q4 results.

Martinrea said it earned $38.7 million or 48 cents per share, compared with $29 million or 36 cents per share a year earlier. The adjusted profit was $32.6 million or 41 cents per share, up from $30.1 million or 38 cents per share in the first quarter of 2020.

Revenues for the three months ended March 31 increased 14.3 percent to $997.2 million from $872.7 million in the prior year.

Chief executive Pat D’Eramo said the longer-term outlook is “very solid” as U.S. auto sales have been near record levels in recent months and vehicle inventories are at their lowest levels in decades, especially on SUVs and CUVs that Martinrea supplies.

“We believe this sets the stage for a prolonged period of strong production growth once supply chain pressures ease,” he said.

Martinrea was expected to report an adjusted profit of 39 cents per share on $953.7 million of revenues, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Industry feathers ruffled

U.S. and Mexican labour groups have filed a complaint against a Mexican auto parts manufacturer, alleging that it violated the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement by suppressing its workers’ rights to unionize.

The complaint, filed Monday with the U.S. government, is the first case that seeks to use a new labour-dispute provision of the USMCA trade agreement signed into law last year by former President Donald Trump with bipartisan support.

A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, which will be one of the agencies overseeing the complaint, said the agency would carefully review it. Mexico’s Economy Ministry said it hadn’t been notified of the complaint and had no comment.

The complaint from the labour groups led by AFL-CIO alleges that Tridonex, an auto-parts factory located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, “harassed and fired” workers who were trying to organize with a Mexican labour group seeking to improve wages and working conditions.

It’s the first such complaint under the USMCA, which went into effect last summer and replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement, which both former President Donald Trump and progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont argued pushed manufacturing jobs out of Michigan and other states and into Mexico. 

Tridonex workers have been attempting to form a SNITIS union for two years but more than 600 have been “harassed and fired” for their efforts, the unions said in a press release. The SNITIS union would replace a company-controlled union that isn’t elected by workers. 

“USMCA requires Mexico to end the reign of protection unions and their corrupt deals with employers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in the joint statement, which also included Susana Prieto, a Mexican labour lawyer who was arrested during union organizing last year. “The ongoing harassment of Susana Prieto and SNITIS members is a textbook violation of the labour laws Mexico has pledged to uphold.”


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